With the rise of veganism in 2017 and 100,000 people signing up for Veganuary 2018 there has never been a better time to explore veganism or start a vegan business. We caught up with Louis Ashok, the owner of Bad Boy Vegan Kitchen to interview him about his transition to veganism and how his business started out! Louis also goes to explain the benefits he has experienced and his view surrounding veganism and people of colour. Stay tuned for an interesting and informative interview…!
What exactly is Bad Boy Vegan Kitchen?
Bad boy vegan Kitchen is a vegan catering service that focuses purely on using the best ingredients and recipes for our clients and customers. We aim to make vegan cuisine more exciting and avoid the stereotypes of it being nothing but grass or food that lacks protein. I turned vegan about 2 years ago and found that there was a lack of options for this diet — I spoke to fellow vegans in the community and received the same complaints of what was missing in the food industry for vegans. Being a chef with the ambition to start my own business already, I knew that this would be the route I would take in order to help others and cook what I enjoy to eat.
Tell us a bit about your vegan journey? What would be your message to new vegans of colour especially those who struggle to see vegan representation of them in the media etc.
My vegan transition evolved from vegetarianism, so it was a much smoother and better transition. I decided to go vegan because at the time I was very much into the gym and thought it would be a good way to tone up and lose weight in a healthy way. The moment I began to adapt to the diet I couldn’t ignore how appreciative I became of life in general. It’s as though it decluttered my mind of unnecessary junk also and I could now see life for how it was with equality and love. With such a clear mind I could easily detect loads of wrongs that were being practiced to date. I also saw the lack of coloured people being represented in the vegan industry even though there are many devout vegans of colour, some even adopting an alkaline diet which I believe is one of the healthiest ways a vegan can live. Being such pioneers to medical treatment from the likes of people like Dr Sebi, as usual black people were shunned for such efforts. I didn’t realise that Veganism which exercises equality of all life still had its equality issues amongst people with colour. Your typical vegan was a white female, fat with unicorn coloured hair, glasses and a feminist. Because this took centre stage when I was introduced to the society it made me wonder where were the vegans who looked like me, which is when I noticed they had their own groups that highlighted it, for example “single black vegans” and many more. So to see that a group for black vegans only shows the segregation was necessary for all vegans alike to be found.
What are the benefits you have seen being vegan?
Since I’ve been vegan I have a much clearer mind and stronger spiritual connection both consciously and subconsciously. My skin’s clearer and I look at life a bit plainer than before, I have a stronger influence on myself rather than being subjected to the opinions and advices of others; which is common to all. My friends are my friends which have been attracted through likewise energy I believe. Though they may not all be vegan, they have similar ways of thinking.
As we all know, starting a business is incredibly hard and has some challenges. What are the biggest things you have learnt / could you share your experience?
The problem with starting a business and the concept of it being hard is due to the fact that people are allured by the prospect of making a lot of money. When I started the business, I wanted recognition so the mindset was to get knowledge out there to people about being vegan and how to survive as one. I thought money will come anyway eventually but financially I would support my business with my regular Chef job. Because I enjoy what I do, I had/have no concept of it being hard which is one key thing to bear in mind; when you enjoy what you do, it’s not hard. Though there are challenges, rather than feeling nervous about them, I feel excited because once that process is finished it means that there’s more elevation to the business. I first wanted to give people a fine dining experience of the vegan side of things and still do but I realised that casual eating was just as important which became known to me when I received feedback that food was expensive and long to prepare this was something I looked to change. Finally, I broke it down to casual eating but fine ingredients a combination that would keep the customers coming which they did.
Many people complain about the process of cooking, what made you fall in love with cooking? And for those that want to spend less time in the kitchen, what are your favourite easy meals?
I fell in love with cooking because I love food and everything about it. It was only right that I did something I enjoyed so I became a chef; simple. As mentioned before it’s hard to complain when you’re having fun, generally an approach to cooking should be seen as an activity rather than a chore. There are many quick and easy recipes you can make for yourself such as cous cous with olives. Bell peppers, fresh basil and truffle oil. Cous cous is a matter of pouring boiling water over it and letting it sit by itself on the side to cook, the other ingredients can be tossed in. This is a meal that can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
What advice would you give to young people wanting to start their own business?
To young people that want to start business I advise that they start a business they truly love. So, for example if you like music try to think about what it is about music you love. Then choose something within that field you could see that needs improvement whether someone is trying to do it or not, do not get put off by people who are already doing what you intend to do; it doesn’t matter!
Any last words? (of insight, reflection, thoughts, feelings, favourite quotes)
Your food affects your mood so make sure you put into your body what you wish to put out. In that, I mean your energy is positive when you eat positive.
I have heard Vegfest London was a great success for you! For those that missed out, where will we be able to find you next? (location wise + social links)
Vegfest London was really good despite a few challenges which is why we will be at the Brighton one in March 2018. Look out for us on Instagram: @badboyvegankitchen our website bbvkldn.com our pages on Facebook bad boy vegan kitchen and Twitter @badboyvkitchen on these platforms you can be updated on our whereabouts and next pop up; look forward to seeing you all.
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